2013 Fails

To follow up on my Top 5 of 2013, here are some projects I'm not so happy with, in no particular order.

Earlier this year I made my first pair of trousers, using a Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern, 2562.

The main aim was to make a pair of trousers that fit me - and they do, despite the wrinkling in the above photo.  The problem is the style is NOT flattering to me at all.  The wide legs, combined with thickish fabric make me look shorter and dumpier than I am.  I would never BUY a pair of trousers in this style, so why did I think making them would be a good idea. 

Consequently they haven't been worn for months, and are unlikely to be worn again.

My lovely red Vogue 1194 dress is also a fail, because I haven't worn it. 

It fits well and is comfortable, but it never seems the right garment for any occasion.  It's too red and I always feel I stand out too much when I put it on - that is without even leaving the house.  I love red and have worn it on and off for years, but realise that I only ever wear it in separates, never top to bottom. 

Another dress fail comes in the form of Simplicity 1652.    

Look at that gorgeous cut out back. 

Well, in reality the back stretches when I wear it, so the bottom section of the cut out ends up standing away from my body in a very unflattering manner.  The fabric is a linen blend, which was probably not the best choice - I should have used something more stable.    It's also too "look at me" with that bold black and white print.  I think I've only worn it once and felt quite self conscious in it the whole day.

These three garments are the only ones I could think of that I would class as failures, which I'm pretty pleased about.  It could have been a lot worse!  They are all pretty well made, and nicely finished, the "failure" part comes from the fact that I made poor choices with either pattern or fabric.   Definitely something to consider when I'm picking patterns and fabric in the future.

Top 5 of 2013

Lots of bloggers have been sharing their top 5's of the year, and I thought I'd shamelessly jump on the bandwagon with mine. 

It's a good way to look back and see what you've achieved during the year, and what has been most successful. 

As you might expect, my top 5 is dress heavy!

The top spot has to go to my 2 Anna's.

I made the grey one first and wore it a few times, then quickly made the maxi version, which got worn to death.  The grey one had been languishing in my wardrobe unworn, as it never felt quite right, but last week I got it out, shortened it by 2 inches and have worn it 3 times since!

This style is so flattering on me, I absolutely love it.  I'm now planning a 3/4 sleeved version using By Hand London's (very simple) tutorial, and also looking into different skirt options, such as this straight skirted version by Dolly Clackett (she's made loads of Anna's!). 

My next choice is another dress, my first Minerva Blogger Network project, a New Look 6000 dress.

Another flattering shape for me (I've realised I need to wear things that highlight my waist) and a favourite pattern this year.  And this fabric is gorgeous!  In the short time since I made this it's been worn a number of times, and the print means it goes with several different cardigans in my wardrobe.  I think it will look good on it's own in warmer weather next year as well.

Another couple of dresses, but not for me this time.  Third place has to go to the wedding outfits I made this summer for Jenny and Laura.   Jenny's was a dress and coat to wear to her son's wedding using embroidered dupion silk and a vintage pattern.

Laura's wedding dress was made from some gorgeous silk double crepe.  I was particularly proud of this one as it involved not only sewing some very expensive fabric, but I worked with a notoriously difficult Marfy pattern.  

Something much simpler now, a self drafted striped jersey top.

This was certainly a lesson in matching stripes!  I've worn it loads and love it.

My final pick isn't wearable.  I couldn't do a top 5 without including one of my sewn images, and I picked this one.

I was going to try and sell it, but I think it might end up finding a place on my wall somewhere!

I hope you've enjoyed the tour round my top 5 projects of the year.  I'll be back soon with some thoughts on less successful projects, and things I'd like to achieve in 2014.

Better Late Than Never!

Hello all.

I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas, but as we're now well past Christmas Day, I'll say instead that I hope you all had a wonderful day full of joy and happiness.

We had a lovely day at home with my family, however I spent the week before hand running around like a mad thing trying to make sure everything was as it should be.  I managed a few hours sit down in the hairdressers on Monday, but other than that yesterday was the first day I managed to do absolutely nothing!  It was lovely ;-)

I also wanted to share with you my crochet Christmas wreath, which I managed to get finished in plenty of time to hang it from the top of the French door in the dining room. 

I basically followed what Lucy did with hers, but didn't have time to make as many embellishments for mine.  No matter though, I'm very happy with it the way it is.  I used a mix of DK weight yarns - picked purely for the colours - they were all merino blends though of a similar make-up.   The tiny baubles were hard to find, I finally tracked a box down in Ikea.   

I'm going to get my act in gear today and do some sewing I think - I fancy a new top for New Year's Eve and happen to have a metre of navy sequinned fabric in my stash that might be perfect.

Minerva Crafts project - New Look skirt

A lot of my winter tops are black and grey, so when I saw this gorgeous crepe fabric on the Minerva Crafts website, I knew it would be perfect for adding some much needed colour into my winter wardrobe.  I decided to use the fuchsia colour to make a skirt for my December project. 

This fabric seems very popular.  A couple of the other Network bloggers have used it in a different colour.  I'm not surprised as it's gorgeous quality, and comes in some great colours.   
I wanted quite a simple style for this skirt and after considering several patterns I settled on the skirt from New Look 6035 This is another pattern I’ve used before, and was happy with the results.  I did have to lengthen it 4 inches though – this is a short skirt if made exactly to the pattern length. 

Because the skirt is a simple shape and the fabric is plain I decided to add some extra touches.  Firstly I drafted some pockets for the front using this tutorial.  My pockets are a different shape, but the principle is the same.  I piped the edge of the pockets as well, using bias strips cut from my skirt fabric to encase the piping cord.  This was attached between the skirt front and pocket lining.

I’d then got the piping bug, and decided to pipe the waistband.  Initially I was just going to do the seam between the band and the main part of the skirt, but then I decided to pipe the top of the band as well.

The skirt fastens with an invisible zip (which is almost invisible), I did have a bit of trouble with the very top of it and as you can see there is a small gap here.   I think that's partly due to the number of layers of fabric right on that seam.  When using piping in this way it's important to grade your seam allowances, as at some points there are quite a few layers of fabric.  I don’t think the little gap will be visible when the skirt is actually worn though.

To finish the skirt I used a faced hem.  The pattern calls for the hem just to be turned up and sewn, but the hem is curved and the fabric is thickish, so I was worried about easing the excess fabric in neatly enough. 

To make the hem facing I just traced the bottom few inches of the skirt pattern.  I finished the top edge of the facing with bias tape, then machined the lower edges together, right sides facing.  After understitching the facing I trimmed the seam allowance on the facing down to ¼ of an inch and pressed the facing up.   The facing was then basted in place so that I could hand sew it with tiny catch stitches that don’t show on the right side.  

I’m really pleased with the results of this project.  The fabric was gorgeous to sew with and the finished skirt will bring some much needed colour to my winter wardrobe.  I might even get daring and wear it with a dark purple top and matching tights!

If you’d like to brighten up your wardrobe you can buy a kit for this skirt here. 

Update on my sewing goals

In January I set myself some sewing goals for the year, and as we’re now nearing the end the year (where has the time gone?) I thought it would be good to have a little look back and see how things have gone.

My goals were:

  • Make a pair of trousers that fit me.
  • Make at least one pattern from an independent designer.
  • Make things I will wear regularly.
  • Make at least one item a month.
  • Participate in at least one sew-a-long.
  • Complete the Craftsy Couture dress course.

So how have I done?

I’ve made a pair of trousers that fit.  Back in April I used Simplicity 2562, an Amazing Fit pattern, to make these trousers.

I’ve used not one, but 2 indie patterns – Colette’s Laurel dress, which I’ve made once and By Hand London’s Anna dress, which I’ve made twice.   

I’m also getting better at making things I’ll wear regularly.  Both the Linen Laurel and my maxi Anna were worn quite a bit over the summer and the various jersey tops I’ve made have had plenty of wear.  I struggle slightly in that I although don’t need to dress overly smartly for work I prefer to make dresses, which sometimes don’t fit in with what I actually need to wear. 

I’ve made at least 19 items this year, including a Mother of the Groom outfit and a wedding dress.  There may also be a couple of items I’ve forgotten:









Vogue 1194         
Laura’s wedding dress


To be revealed!

I participated in my first sew-a-long, Scruffy Badger’s Polka Dot Frock Fest way back in February.  What a wonderful array of polka dot New Look 6000’s were to be seen!

My only fail has been my failure to even start – let alone finish – the Craftsy Couture Dress course.  There always seems to be something else I’d rather be doing!  It doesn’t help that I don’t like the pattern used, but I suppose even just watching the lessons I’d learn something!  Must do it!!

Maybe that should go at the top of my list of goals for 2014?!
Did you set yourself any sewing goals this year?  How did you do?




Project Overload?

Hello there lovely followers!

So, it's Friday again.  Where do the weeks go?  And the months, come to that.  I really, really can't get my head around the fact that it's less than 3 weeks to Christmas!

And I seem to be overloaded with projects.  Here's what is currently on my list.  Firstly for me, and in order of priority.

My next Minerva Crafts blogger network project.  I need to have this finished by this time next week, and it isn't even started yet.  I think I know what I'm doing now though!  I need to make my final decision this afternoon and then get cracking.

A crochet wreath.  No, I couldn't resist going to the yarn shop last Saturday after sharing Lucy of Attic 24's gorgeous Christmas wreath.  I did this much in 2 evenings, so I'm hoping to get it finished in the next week (or maybe 10 days!).

An Olivia coat/cardigan by Purl Alpaca Designs.  This has actually been put aside while I work on the wreath and the project below.   There's no real urgency for this one, although I can't wait to finish and wear it. 

Another knitting project.  This one is my January Minerva Crafts project, so all I can show you so far is this.  It's yummy though, can't wait to share this at the appropriate time.

I'm doing another craft fair on 21st December with my free motion pictures and bits and pieces, so I need to make some more stock of the smaller items and unframed pictures.

I also need to turn up some new curtains for the lounge (see below).

And I have a list of sewing for other people:

Line a fleece jacket for my husband.
Alter a duvet cover for a friend.
Make 2 dresses for another friend.

Luckily these have no (real) urgency.  Except hubbys jacket, because he asks me about it every time he sees me doing something else!

Oh, and we're decorating the dining room - including a new carpet - (and hopefully the lounge - including new curtains) before Christmas, which better get finished as I'm hosting Christmas dinner for my family at our house. 

Those few days I've got off over Christmas, when I thought I might be making a start on my coat?  I think I'll be lying down in a darkened room recovering from this lot!

Do you ever feel like you've taken on more than you can manage?

Friday Fancies

Here's another Friday round up of some of my favourite things.


Firstly this totally gorgeous Christmas wreath, made by Lucy of Attic 24.    Isn't it stunning?  I so want to make one, but I'm not sure I've got time to complete it this year.  I'm so tempted to go and hit the yarn shop tomorrow though!


Some more colour!   A gorgeous bold striped scarf from Rowan Knitted Scarves and Shrugs, knit in 5 colours of Kid Silk Haze.   I think I could probably knit this without the pattern!


A quilted sewing machine cover tutorial from Sew Delicious.  I bought a pretty charm pack (I think that's what it's called) of quilting fabric last weekend that would be perfect for this.

A cute asymmetric bob.  I'm due to get my hair cut in a couple of weeks and am tempted to go for something like this.  (Love the red lips too!)

And finally a cute kitty with some thread.  I believe this is a vintage advertisement for Zwicky Thread.  How lovely would this be on the wall of a sewing room?

That's all for now.  Have a great weekend!

Off My Needles: Cabernet Sauvignon wrap

I have some completed knitting to share with you today.  I actually finished it at the end of last month, and have worn it loads, but this is the first chance I've had to photograph and share it here.

As soon as I saw this picture of the Cabernet Sauvignon wrap on Ravelry I knew I wanted to make one for myself, and I knew I had to use the same - or a very similar - colour. 

Cabernet Sauvignon by Monika Sirna

Here is my version.

The colour of my yarn is not quite as vibrant, but it's a pretty good match.  I used all bit a tiny bit of 4 skeins of Shibui Knits Sock in Peony, which I bought from Meadow Yarn.  My photo above shows the colour pretty accurately, it's possibly slightly deeper in real life. 

I totally enjoyed every minute of working on this project.  Although it uses the same stitch pattern throughout there is enough going on with increases and decreases and short rows to shape the curve that you don't get bored.   It's a really fun project to work on, and lovely to wear.

This picture that I took when I was about 1/3 of the way through shows the curve pretty well.

My plan was to make a navy coat this winter, and I'm sure this will look gorgeous with a navy coat, when I eventually get round to making one!  It might happen, but my "to make" list seems to be growing ever longer, and a coat takes up quite a bit of time. 

For now I'm enjoying wearing this with anything and everything.

To Alter or Not to Alter...

... that is the question!

Having spent a bit of time this week altering a skirt I bought last weekend I started thinking about how and when I'm willing to alter RTW garments.

The skirt in question is this one:

I got it from the DKNY outlet at Bicester Village, a designer retail outlet near me.  It was reduced from £75 to £29, and what really caught my eye was the way the waist was shaped with all those little tucks instead of the usual darts or pleats. 

It was short though!  Around 16 inches short!  I haven't worn a skirt that short in goodness knows how long.  Luckily it had a decent hem of about 1.75 inches.   I decided I could easily let the hem down quite a bit, thereby making it more comfortably wearable. 

However it was also a little big around the waist, so that it kind of didn't know how or where to sit.  The part where the tucks end sat nicely on my hips, but the waist was loose.  Not loose enough to be baggy and floppy, but loose enough to make me look a good size or 2 larger around the waist than I am.  I spent a bit of time thinking about this one, I knew I could do an alteration here as well, and again quite easily, but I needed to decide whether it was worth it.

In the end I decided that it was worth spending the money and doing the alterations.  It now fits nicely around the top and is about 1.5 inches longer.  Still pretty short for me, but wearable with thick tights. 

So, how did I decide whether it was "worth it" on the alterations front? 

At the time I wasn't sure how I'd come to the decision, but thinking about it since, I realised I've got a few rules when it comes to situations like this.

The garment in question has to be good quality.  The fabric of this skirt is lovely and thick, but soft, it's finished nicely and of course it is "designer".  If it had been £29 full price and had been in a run of the mill chain store I wouldn't have considered buying and altering it because I don't think the quality would have been that good. 

The garment has to be "different".  Not way out different, but if this had been a standard pencil or A line skirt, again I wouldn't have bought it.  I'd have decided I could look for another one similar, or make one. 

The garment has to be a good price.  I wouldn't have paid £75 for a skirt and then done these alterations.  Having said that it's highly unlikely that I'd have paid £75 for any skirt.   But if I had spent that sort of money, I would have expected whatever I bought to fit well without needing my sewing skills to sort it out.  The only exception to this rule would possibly be hemming to shorten trousers.

So, how do you feel about altering RTW?  Is it something you do often, or something you'd never consider?  Do you have rules of your own about this?

Minerva Crafts Project - Floral Shift Dress

Hello there!   Sorry for the long absence, life seems to have got in the way somewhat over the last couple of weeks.  First hubby and I were away for a weekend for his birthday, then we were both ill with a nasty sickness bug.  It's good to be back to normal and blogging again!
For my first project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network I wanted to make something that typified my style. 

Anyone who has visited my blog will know I love dresses and I love printed fabrics. 
I decided to use one of my favourite patterns, New Look 6000, choosing view D without the collar.

I’ve used views D (collarless) and E at least 6 times now... possibly more!  As soon as I saw this fabric I knew it would be perfect for this pattern.

The fabric is 100% cotton lawn and it is really lovely.  I must confess I rarely use 100% cotton as I often find it too stiff, but this one definitely isn’t.  It’s crisp but still soft, is gorgeous to sew and feels very comfortable to wear.
Now, you’d think that using a pattern I was so familiar with would mean things would go smoothly, wouldn’t you? 
So did I, but sadly, I forgot that I normally fold an inch out of the length of the bodice, in between the underarm and the bust dart.  I was merrily sewing away and got as far as having inserted the invisible zip before I tried it on... and had a shock when it was too tight across the hips and I couldn’t work out why.  Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t folded out my normal inch across the bodice, which obviously lifts everything an inch, and makes the hip shaping curve out that bit higher.  I therefore spent a happy evening unpicking the zip, sleeves (yes, I’d put those in as well!) and shoulder seams so I could recut the top of the dress taking the necessary alteration into account.
Thankfully I was then able to complete everything else without any further issue.
Although it's almost Winter here, I decided to make the dress with short sleeves.  Even if it had long sleeves I probably wouldn't wear it at this time of year without a cardigan over, and I hate the dragging of cardigan sleeves against fabric underneath.  I therefore went with the little pleated cap sleeves, which I think look really pretty.

The body of the dress is fully lined with black lining, which is handstitched to the zip tape and armsyce seams.  I finished the hem by treating the outer fabric and lining as one, and machine stitched a double folded hem.  I love to line my dresses and enclose all the raw edges.  It takes a bit more time, but I'm always much happier with the finish of a lined dress.  It also means I don't have to tangle with facings - which I hate!  The sleeves are unlined and just finished with a double folded hem.

I love how this dress has turned out and know I’ll get a lot of wear out of it.  If you’d like to make your own version, you can buy the kit here.  It contains 2 metres of the cotton lawn, 1.5 metres of lining fabric and a 22” invisible zip.

Exciting News!

Happy Thursday afternoon my lovelies.

I have some exciting news to share with you today, that I've known about for a while but have had to keep quiet about!  Well, today I can share it with you, as it's official.

I'm proud to say I'm one of the new group of bloggers to join the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network

What is the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network, I hear you ask?

Well, according to the lovely people at Minerva themselves it is "a collection of amazing bloggers from across the world".

So, what does being a member of this amazing collection mean?

Basically, for the next 3 months I've been lucky enough to get to choose a wish list of supplies from the 1,000's of items that Minerva stock which they put together in a kit.  I then make a project from the items and blog about it.  The best part is, if you like what I've made, you can buy a kit to make the same item yourself.

The blogger network has already been running for 3 months, and there are some fab bloggers taking part.  I feel very privileged to be joining them.

I'll leave you with a sneaky peak of my first project, this is all I can share right now.  You'll have to wait until 18th November to see it in all it's glory.

 That's all for now! 

Vintage Dress Shop picture

A few weeks ago I showed you a free motion embroidered picture I was working on, of a vintage dress shop.

Here it is in progress:

And here it is finished:

Close ups of each of the three sections:

I'm doing my first craft fair in 3 weeks time, so I've been getting together the items I've finished and trying to put together a display.   This is how it looks set out on my dining room table, but I need to have something at the back I can prop some larger frames up against and also get a nice cloth to cover the table with. 

Has anyone ever sold at a craft fair?  If so, do you have any tips for me?